|Mary K. Armstrong ca. 1930|
The month of October helps us remember those who have gone before us. The entire month seems packed with celebrations, observances, and opportunities to think about our own history. For instance, National Hispanic Heritage month (Sept 15 – Oct 15) is celebrated nationally, Texas Baptists celebrate Baptist History and Heritage Month, and here on campus, we celebrate ETBU Homecoming. When we begin to look back on the history of the library at College of Marshall and East Texas Baptist College, one cannot escape the contributions of Mrs. Mary Louise Ketcham Armstrong who served as librarian here from 1930-1955. So what are we doing? We’re throwing her a 128th birthday party, of course!
This all started when I read a post from a blog I follow – Library Design Share – that discussed the MD Anderson Library’s post humus birthday party for MD Anderson himself. The library used it as an opportunity to celebrate their founder, share their history, and eat a little birthday cake. My thoughts quickly went to Mrs. Armstrong and I was off to find out about when we could celebrate her birthday.
A few Google searches and fellow librarian consultations later and I had the date – October 24, 1887. Eureka! The weekend of October 24 is the same weekend as our ETBU Homecoming celebration. We simply must throw a party to celebrate this librarian who made so many contributions to our institution.
As librarians will do, I began digging through our ETBU archives, local history resources, and genealogical databases to see what I could learn about Mrs. Armstrong. Within a few days, I had pieces of her story strung together across my monitor and my desk. We’ll be using this information this week to complete the display of Mary K. Armstrong’s life that will be featured in the library during her birthday party on Friday, October 23rd @ 3pm.
Here are a few previews of what I was able to find using the resources that are available to me right here on campus:
- Mary Louise Ketcham was born to Christopher Brower Ketcham and Emma Louise Menger Ketcham in Marshall, Texas on October 24, 1887.
- In 1900, the Ketcham family resided in a house at 406 E Houston Street. The house is no longer standing, but the Panola-Harrison County Electric Cooperative building takes up most of the block where the home originally sat.
- By 1910 the family had relocated to what would be their permanent family residence – 107 Rainey Street.
- Mary Ketcham married Frank Armstrong on June 13, 1911. The couple moved into her family home on Rainey Street and remained there through at least the 1940s.
- Mary K. Armstrong joined the staff at COM in July, 1930 as the Publicity Director. By September, 1930 she had taken on the role of Librarian.
- She eventually earned her Masters of Science in Education and received an honorary doctorate from ETBC in the 1950s.
- Mrs. Armstrong retired at the age of 67 in June of 1955 after completing 25 years of service in various capacities including publicity director, librarian, English instructor, and as a Professor of Education.
- Mary Louise Ketcham Armstrong passed away on January 1, 1980 at the age of 92 following a lengthy illness.
|Mary K. Armstrong ca. 1955|
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! We’ve learned so much about this great lady and her contributions by searching our university archives and using our online access to family history resources.
Interested in learning the rest of the story? Curious about how you can use our resources to research a person from your own history? Join us on Friday, October 23, 2015 from 3pm-4pm in the library as we celebrate Mrs. Armstrong with history and birthday cake!
- Elizabeth Ponder, Manager of Instruction & Information Services